Great White Snark: "Art is a daydream."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Art is a daydream."

Freud said the above about his theory on art and artists.

Today in my Practical Criticism class we discussed A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka.

It was utterly depressing. Although, Kafka may well be the most depressing human being to ever exist. He is even more depressing in my book than Poe. I mean, Poe died alone, drunk, and penniless at the age of 40 due to unknown causes (speculated: alcoholism, drug overdose, meningitis and RABIES), after marrying his 13 year old cousin who, like all the other significant women in his life, died a slow and painful death from tuberculosis. And Kafka is even more depressing than THAT.

Although, if I was a Jew who both survived WWI and successfully predicted the coming of the Holocaust, I might be depressed too.

Anyway, the lecture today was intense. My professor admitted to not really being able to deduce any one clear theme from the story. But what he did get out of it was that the artist must suffer for their art.

He mentioned the above Freud quote, and expounded on it, sharing that Freud believed people indulged in artistic endeavors not to share what was going on inside of them, but rather, as an outward manifestation of an inward desire to escape. What is being escaped is relative to the artist in question: for Kafka, it was his own inadequecy. For Dickinson, it was her lonely, unappreciated life. For Poe, it was the horrors of his own life which he used to make a profit off of in a sensationalized form.

I think this is bullocks. And my professor does, too.

He took a show of hands as to how many kids in the class liked to read as a kid. Like 90% raised their hands. I know I loved to read as a child, and yes, I will admit that it was because I felt safe there. Kids in school picked on me. I've always been kind of a freak. But the books never judged me. Granted, this was all subconscious. Mostly, I just love a good story. And I'd like to think that now, 20 years later, I'm not an English major because I'm trying to escape the mundaneness of my own life. I just enjoy the art form of literature, and personally, want to take MY passion for it and pass it on to other people, especially teenagers who might not even realize that they love reading.

And I don't write to escape my own hideous life. My life, overall, is pretty damn good. When I write, I write because I want to. I write for no audience. I know that there are only like, 3 people who regularly follow this blog. And I still write it anyway, not because I'm miserable or I desire for your attention (though attention is nice). I write this blog because I see and experience so many ridiculous things on a day to day basis and I want to share them, coupled with my POV, with someone. Even if it's just three someones.

You can make the argument that the artist is tortured, that it must be so in order for great art to be produced. But I'd just like to point out that Chaucer and Shakespeare, two of the greatest writers the world has ever known, were both fat and happy guys. I'm pretty sure they didn't mope by candlelight next to a bottle of Jack or Absinthe wiling away the hours, pen in hand, focusing on how much their lives sucked. I feel like this is an absurd stereotype. Are artists odd? Yes. We have to be in order to give our work the perspective that only we have on it. But is it a pre-req to be as miserable as humanly possible? Absolutely NOT.

I'd encourage you guys to be happy and write and paint and do what makes you happy. And don't fall into this swirling vortex of deep dark existentialism and doubt and cynicism. Then you'll just be a bummer to be around. And like Poe and Kafka, you'll probably die young and unnoticed until a friend (or in Poe's case, an enemy) betrays your last wishes and publishes all the manuscripts you wanted burned. Then people will like you, but you'll already be dead. So you won't even know.

PS: Those of you who know my writing and are reading this are probably like, "Omg, Mary is such a hypocrite. She writes the sappiest, lamest, most depressing things." Trufax. Writing is still, in my opinion, an excellent way to get out all the toxic things inside you. This is why I'm so big on journalling. I'm just saying that in order to be famous, you don't have to be so mopey. Even though in today's market you won't get published if someone in your fiction doesn't either have a crisis of faith or identity, or no one gets shot. Just saying. :)

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE Kafka---regardless of how much I want to slit my wrists after reading through Metamorphosis...

    I wasn't actually going to comment, you know. Just creep around a little on your blog. But you just had to mention him.

    Keep writing, sunshine. :)